Receiving a wedding invitation is a wonderful thing. Planning your outfit is, perhaps, less so. It can be very stressful trying to find something nice to wear that caters to the wedding day, and even more so if it is within a culture you’re not familiar with. Take a look through our guide to planning a wedding outfit for a selection of different cultures.
Knowing what the bride might be wearing
It’s important to know what the bride may wear, so you can avoid those same colours or styles in your own outfit. British brides often wear white dresses with long trains and an elegant veil. But how do our own bridal traditions compare to India, Japan, and China?
Indian bride outfits
There are different bride dress styles throughout India’s many regions. In some regions, the bride wears a saree which is a garment that looks like a long drape, in others she wears a lehenga which is a long skirt. Often the bride is dressed in red or another vibrant colour, her garments will be carefully embroidered with an impressive design. The bride and her bridal party often have henna on their palms, hands, forearms and legs.
Japanese bride outfits
Expect a lavish affair at a Japanese wedding; families have been known to spend around £75,000. It is often the parents of the couple who organise the wedding, and they are willing to spend excessive amounts to save face. Because of the large scale of the weddings, the bride can have as many as five costume changes! At a traditional (Shinto) wedding, the bride wears a white kimono, but more recently Japanese brides wear a dress that has a traditional print.
Chinese bride outfits
Brides in China usually wear a red dress to symbolised and beckon in good fortune. In some regions, typically in northern China, the traditional attire for a bride is a one-piece dress that is embroidered with gold and silver designs. In southern China, the typical wear is a two-piece frock. Brides may also wear a beautiful bridal crown for photos and for show during the day. For footwear, a special pair of shoes are often worn that are embroidered with a symbol — for example, a turtle or a deer which symbolises happiness and longevity.
How the groom may dress
A groom’s outfit can also reflect culture and tradition too. However, many of them are opting for a smart suit similar to how a groom in the UK would dress.
Indian groom attire
There are also regional variations to the groom’s outfit in an Indian wedding. Some husbands-to-be wear traditional dress, such as a dhoti which is a rectangular cloth ties around the waist. In other regions, they wear a sherwani (a long coat), a kurta (loose falling shirt that hangs below the knee), or a Western suit. The men also have henna on their bodies, but it is less elaborate and often hidden.
Japanese groom attire
Japanese grooms often wear two outfits throughout the day. Prior to donning a tuxedo, Japanese grooms often wear a traditional kimono for the ceremony itself. The formal kimono that he wears is called a montsuki, and often displays the family crest. More recently, younger grooms start the ceremony in a tuxedo too.
Chinese groom attire
Wearing an embroidered robe and black silk coat is considered the traditional approach for Chinese grooms. Often, in the modern day, the overcoat is not worn. The groom has to wear certain headwear too – this is usually a black hat with a red tassel. Some younger generations are not following the traditional dress code and simply wear a tuxedo or a Western-style business suit.
Guests’ clothing choices
Before buying your outfit for the day, be sure to keep these tips in mind:
Your best bet for an Indian wedding is to wear something brightly coloured. Wearing vibrant colours will mean you fit in with the Indian guests. Guests should avoid white or black as these are colours worn for funerals and mourning in India. It is also advised that red is not worn either as the bride will probably be dressed in this colour.
It’s important that female guests keep their shoulders covered and stay away from any low-cut tops or shorter skirts. A jewel-tone dress with a shawl is one appropriate outfit. The Indian female guests will most likely be dressed in colourful sarees or anarkali suits. Jewellery is important for women too, so choose a statement piece for around your neck with matching earrings and bangles.
Let’s explore the wardrobe for male guests. Men often wear a tailored kurta with a pyjama and a dupatta (shawl) can be added over the kurta. For their feet, sandals, jootis or chappals are often worn as these are comfortable and prevent overheating.
If the wedding is to be held in a temple, you’ll need to have your head covered. For this, women can wear a long scarf or pashmina over their heads and men are usually provided with a head cover such as a large handkerchief. An Indian wedding is often a long drawn out event (it could be three days long!) so make sure you are wearing something loose and comfortable.
A white tie and black men’s suit makes for traditional Japanese groom attire. Now however, the dress code is more flexible, and it is accepted for men to come dressed in suits other than black with various coloured ties. However, it is advised to avoid white clothes with black ties. Women often wear dresses that are knee length or a coloured kimono to take on a traditional look. It is best to avoid showing any shoulder as this can be deemed a disrespectful.
Don’t wear red as a guest at a Chinese wedding, as it’s considered rude. It’s best to wear pink, peach or purple as these are all symbols of new life and happiness. A formal dress is suitable for a Chinese wedding. Colours to avoid include black and white, as these symbolise mourning and black is considered to be the colour of bad luck.